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Below Im posting an inside view of The Old Republic based on an inside source. And no I didnt have to dumpster dive this time to get this info rofl.
Oh and before the flame wars begin, lets not forget I was dead on correct when I said Bioware was making a Star Wars theme MMO. And this was despite Bioware and LA both stating for a fact that this would not be a star wars MMO.
This is going to be long and so I'll do my best to organize what I know as best I can.
Many MMO's start out as an idea. Developers formulate a basic concept and then workshop ideas. A basic blueprint is written up and a budget is estimated. Then work begins. At this point some of the larger MMO dev houses present their blueprint to a marketing team. The team will do research to determine what kind f projected revenue they can expect and if the game will reach an intended target. Ideas are given back to the development team who may or may not revise their blueprint.
I describe this as whats normally done within a development of an MMO. I mention this because TOR didnt start in this traditional sense.
TOR was born from a business model. This business model was handed over to developers who were then asked to design a game around it. What was this business model you ask, it was a book.
This book was written by Lucas Arts and inspired by KOTOR and its success. I dont know the origins of when and why it was done but this book is the framework for TOR.
The game has been designed to play like a virtual book. Each chapter will have alternate endings based on which dialog you chose in the quests. The goal is to make the game replayable and new each time you start over.
Each chapter has roughly the same content as a KOTOR game. And there are several chapters so the game does have a ton of content.
The game is heavily instanced. If you have ever played Lord of the Rings Online, its similiar to the beginning quest sequence and some of the books. You will literally watch a story unfold in front of you in your own little world. There are several cinematic scenes in the game.
Its definitely NOT open. There are no giant worlds you can freely explore. Its sort of like Guild Wars or a variation of Age of Conan. No player cities and no housing.
There is no space content so if your hoping for a JTL in TOR you better look elsewhere. There is a few quests involving boarding a ship but you arent going to fly around in an X-Wing doing missions.
The story evolves. Think Books in Lord of the Rings. They plan on adding new chapters to the story. Here is the catch, you will likely have to pay for each new chapter. Its not really an expansion, so its more like buying some additional quests.
There are classes in the game but not in the traditional MMO sense. There isnt a tank class or a healing class really. Each class can dps and has some healing abilities.
Each class will start on its own planet and will have a unique series of quests to start the game. Once you leave the planet, the quests will be mostly the same as other classes but the dialog is unique to each class. Of course there are different possibilities based on the dialog you choose. Also cinematic sequences will be different depending on class.
You can solo through the entire game. Not to say there arent group quests, there are but you can skip them.
If you dont like questing, this game isnt for you. There really is no other means to play the game.
There is no non-combat class.
There is a limit to the number of companions you can have. And in a group you cant have two of the same companions out at the same time. Also you can only have one companion out at a time.
Crafting is very basic. You craft your own lightsaber. There is no weapons crafting or armor crafting of any kind. There are some quests that require you to do some basic crafting like fixing a shield generator or fixing a droid. There are some modifications you can add to your gear. But you arent going to make your own gear.
There is currency and you can buy consumables like health pots. There will be a standard auction house.
Its definitely a PvE focused game. PvP will be limited to duels at this point. There are no raids, at least not in the traditional sense where 25 people go into a dungeon like in wow.
combat is classic rpg with a toolbar and specials with cooldowns.
Bioware wont support addons and apparently it will be considered an exploit to use one. No idea why.
The game currently is in full alpha test mode.
To summarize the game, its not really an MMO in the traditional sense. Some people are going to be upset by the design. Others like KOTOR fans will absolutely love this game. Oh and there will definitely be RMT plus a subscription fee.